Balancing free time and friends with school and academics can be difficult, but it’s important to find a certain stability between both. Here are a few tips to help you avoid procrastinating so you can have time to spend with friends and for events! 

A major way to avoid procrastination is to create a strict schedule. What has helped me the most is to write down fixed days and times to which I assign a specific piece of homework. I usually write these dates or times on a piece of paper that I pin or tape on my desk. You can also do this with a whiteboard, post-it notes, or even Google Calendar. You can set reminders on your phone to be notified to do your homework as well. The most important thing to follow with this tip is to stick to the schedule you have created. By doing so, the homework that you finish will be completed on time and will both give you a feeling of satisfaction and free up some extra time to spend.

Motivating yourself to do the homework that you have been assigned (and that you have hopefully scheduled during your week) can be very difficult. A motivational hack to use, especially if you have a heavy workload, is to reward yourself. Some people like to reward themselves with Netflix, YouTube, TikTok and other forms of entertainment, whereas others prefer to reward themselves with a treat of some sort, like a beverage, a cookie or some candy. This method of motivation can be used when reading long texts or writing a paper. After reading three chapters of your book, take a break and watch your favorite TV show. After writing your introduction and the first body paragraph of your essay, buy your go-to drink. This will get you to do your homework more efficiently because you will allow yourself to get something you love in return guilt-free. 

Another efficient tip is to do your homework when you get it. This means that if you are assigned a short assignment that you do not consider “long-term,” you should try to get it done within the day that it was assigned. This might seem a little excessive, but you will feel so relieved when the due date comes and you realize that you have done the assignment a week before. The satisfaction of completing the work and getting to spend time with friends instead of studying or doing homework will feel amazing. This tip might be hard to keep up if your workload is heavy but it can be used on short assignments easily.

Another tip that I have is to give yourself a time limit on the homework that you plan on doing in a day. You should only work a certain amount of hours on homework per day, two or three at most. This will keep you from losing concentration and will allow you to be as efficient as you can. This tip can also help you feel less stressed and overworked than if you had worked for four or five uninterrupted hours.  

Finally, the last tip is to turn off your devices. While studying, you may want to keep your phone on Do Not Disturb or Airplane Mode. This will help you stay away from any strong distractions that may get in the way. If you decide to use the motivational technique of rewarding yourself with devices, a good idea would be to set an alarm or time limit to help control the amount of time you spend on apps and TV. These types of entertainment are usually very complicated to stop using after you have started, so setting these boundaries for yourself will help you get back to work in proper time. 

I, like many people, have experienced procrastination on numerous occasions. I know the guilty feeling of spending a whole afternoon binge-watching a favorite show rather than working on a very important paper due two days later. Using these methods will help you feel in control of your academics and will free up some time to do the things that you would rather be doing than doing your homework.